LUMBERTON — The Robeson County chapter of the NAACP is opposing an effort by the Lumberton City Council to limit or eliminate early voting for city elections.
Renea Stackhouse, president of the Robeson County Unified branch of the NAACP, said in a statement that the organization will challenge a resolution recently approved by the council on a 5 to 3 vote asking state legislators for permission to limit or eliminate early voting. Councilmen Leon Maynor, Don Metzger, Harry Ivey, Robert Jones and Erich Hackney voted in favor of the resolution, with John Robinson, Jackie Taylor and John Cantey voting against it.
Early voting allows people to cast a ballot in advance of Election Day without an explanation. Citizens can also register and vote the same day. It will begin on April 18 and end on May 5 for the May 8 primary.
The next city elections are in 2013.
The city’s resolution has been sent to the county’s state legislative delegation — Sen. Michael Walters and Reps. Charles Graham, Garland Pierce and G.L. Pridgen — asking them to seek approval from the General Assembly. The request would not affect county, state and federal elections.
“In 2008 almost two-thirds of votes cast in Robeson and across the state were cast in early voting. That sounds pretty successful to me,” Stackhouse said in the statement, which was titled “Lumberton City Council out of touch with voters.”
Maynor, who made the motion for the resolution, contends that early voting in Lumberton has been abused. He said that during the two-and-a-half weeks of early voting residents of Lumberton are harassed by people going door to door in get-out-the-vote campaigns. Maynor has said that early voting invites corruption.
Cantey, who opposed the resolution, said that limiting or abolishing early voting would be “suppressing” the votes of people who may not have transportation on the day of the election. Early voting helped Cantey win election to the council in 2005 when he was elected as a write-in candidate in Precinct 5.
In her statement Stackhouse commended those councilmen who voted against the resolution.
“Cheers to Councilpersons John Cantey, John Robinson and Jackie Taylor for standing up for citizens and allowing for citizens who have the right to vote the opportunity to vote,” she said.
Stackhouse provided some advice to voters.
“Always remember that no one tries to reduce or take something away from you unless that something has value,” she said. “People, your vote is valuable, your vote is powerful. Don’t be manipulated, exploited, or allow others to benefit financially from your vote. Don’t allow it to be stolen from you.”
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.